The Tennessean, April 25, 2008
The Sumner County Board of Education gave the green light to move forward on adding new classrooms and expansion projects planned for four county elementary schools, including two in HendersonvilleTuesday night. In a special called meeting, board members unanimously approved spending nearly $5.5 million on expansions and renovations for Nannie Berry and Gene Brown Elementary schools in Hendersonville. Cardinal Construction Services based in Hendersonville provided the lowest bid for the combined project. Board members approved building eight new classrooms and expanding the cafeteria/kitchen at Gene Brown Elementary in Hendersonville. Nannie Berry Elementary will get six new classroom and will also get it's kitchen and cafeteria expanded. Both schools will get additional parking and lights. In a separate motion, the board unanimously approved spending $3.2 million for expanding North Sumner and Oakmont Elementary Schools. Curtis Builders of Gallatin provided the only bid for these projects. The cafeteria will be expanded and four new classrooms will be added to North Sumner Elementary in Bethpage. At Oakmont Elementary School, construction of a new office and reception area, a gymnasium, two additional classrooms and a canopy between the new gymnasium and school building were approved. The board also authorized spending $178, 250 for future upgrades to Oakmont's sewer system. The additions and renovations for the four schools are included in phase I of a $75 million school building program approved by the board and County Commission last year. "We're very satisfied with these bids. They are just about where we thought they would be," said Maryanne Durski, finance director for the school system.Steve Nichols, assistant director for facilities and maintenance reported that the low number of competitive bids for the projects was due to leery construction firms unwilling to work with the Sumner County school system because of its "bad reputation of "being difficult to work with - in particular with the board." "It's hurting us in getting contractors to bid on our work," Nichols said, adding he and his staff were working to reverse the perceived reputation with construction firms. Hendersonville member Don Long suggested that the declining number of contractors bidding on school projects is due recent rebids for three schools planned in Portland and Westmoreland. " Once they've thrown their numbers out there and it's available for the free world to see. Typically they aren't interested because they know somebody's going to come in an undercut them," Long said. Pending approval by the County Commission in May, construction of the projects will begin in June and should be completed before the start of the 2009-2010 school year, Nichols said.